How agency Bloomerang Solutions expanded its services with Sprout Social Chatbots
From time to time, we invite industry influencers to write a guest post on our blog. We turned to our friends from @SproutSocial to share a success story on how a full-service digital marketing agency @Bloomerang_ implemented a chatbot strategy.
Bloomerang Solutions is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in the floral industry, serving small businesses and large conglomerates alike. In addition to developing websites and implementing pay-per-click strategies, Bloomerang provides clients cutting-edge social media support with the help of Sprout Social and automated chatbots.
As a member of Sprout’s Agency Partner Program, Bloomerang receives access to enterprise-level features, such as chatbots, at a price point specifically designed and scaled for agencies. In turn, it’s able to provide its clients with advanced services and functionalities.
Updating social strategy
In a world where 1 in 3 people use social to seek advice or communicate with a business, updating social strategy is an imperative.
“The floral industry is one of those areas where many people don’t want to change,” said Jeff Higgins, Social Media Director at Bloomerang. “You come across a lot of shops that started as somebody's father's father's father's shop, and since then nothing's changed. What we do is help these florists move into the future so they can compete in a digital world.”
The Bloomerang team knew it needed the right tool for the job, and Sprout stood out among other social media management platforms.
“At the end of the day, we like a lot of numbers and analytics, and out of all the platforms, Sprout just had the best analytics data,” Higgins said. “It had a lot of the best comparative data. It had a lot of things we could look at and really make a decision on how we were going to make our next move. Also, any time I talked to anyone who had dealt with Sprout, they said the customer service was just top-notch, and that's still true now.”
As Bloomerang’s social offerings evolved alongside the larger digital landscape, the agency realized there was room to innovate while providing clients with a much-needed service.
“One of the biggest things in the floral industry is customer service,” Higgins said. “You're dealing with an industry that’s filled with emotion. You’re often getting flowers because you're in love, or because somebody passed away or you're trying to say you're sorry. Everything has an emotion attached to it, so people are in a hurry. But if you're sitting there and you've got maybe one agent answering the phone, and you're having a heavy day, you can't handle all the incoming business.”
“What we decided to do was lighten that load so florists could focus on their work,” Higgins said. “Because you have to pull designers off if you start getting a lot of calls, and now they're trying to look up SKUs and numbers and things like that on a computer. For the most part, that's not their gig; their gig is designing flowers. Our main thing was to use chatbots for customer service, and then as that progressed we found they could be a very easy way to order flowers as well.”
Advancing through automation
With Sprout Social’s Bot Builder, agencies like Bloomerang are able to create, preview and deploy chatbots in a matter of minutes. Everything from automatic welcome messages to pre-programmed replies can be used to ensure prospective buyers receive the responsive customer care they crave. In addition to greeting customers and answering commonly asked questions, chatbots can be designed to provide specific product and service recommendations, complete with calls to action and eye-catching imagery.
Bloomerang encourages clients to focus on one issue at a time so they can create a chatbot that excels at a single task. This validates the value of the technology for clients and opens the door to expanding chatbot capabilities.
“We make sure they can see how [a chatbot] benefits them with sales, or how it'll help with their customer service, or how it'll help them reach a younger demographic, and at the same time let them produce more product,” Higgins said.
Bloomerang began offering chatbots as part of specific packages, but is now shifting to a more à la carte approach. Pricing is dependent on how in-depth the client wants to get with chatbot creation.
“For a standard chatbot, we'll do anywhere from $800 to $1,200 for the build, depending on what the client wants,” Higgins said. “If it goes higher than that, we'll start charging hourly, depending on how much more needs to be added on.”
Sprout’s intuitive Bot Builder makes it easy for Bloomerang to construct multiple sophisticated chatbots in a short period of time. The Conversation Map tool allows users to assign chatbots to specific social profiles and set up Welcome Greetings, Quick Replies and Auto-responses, as well as visualize multi-level workflows and preview the experience. The builder also supports the ability to add imagery, GIFs and CTA buttons that take users to external URLs.
Chatbot maintenance also offers an avenue for revenue generation.
“We generally charge $99 a month on a standard chatbot,” Higgins said. “If it's one that has a lot more involved with it, it can reach up to $199 to $299 a month for maintenance. A lot of that depends on message volume. It depends on how many people are using the chatbot, how much you're having to adjust it, things like that.”
Maintenance includes consistent updates and optimization, analyzing chatbot data to find out what people are asking and determining when they click to make a purchase.
“We aim for the rule of three with chatbots,” Higgins said. “We try to work it out so a general user can get the information they need or make a purchase in three clicks.”
Reaping the rewards
Businesses of all shapes and sizes find chatbots save them precious time, reduce customer service costs and generate leads and revenue, even after hours.
“80 to 85% of your questions could be handled with a chatbot, and that frees up your team to accomplish tasks and solve more pressing issues faster,” Higgins said. “What's crazy is we've figured out that, especially in our industry, that small amount of waiting time will piss people off. Enabling them to get on with their purchase and notifying someone when it’s time for them to hop in if necessary has been a big help.”
The benefits of chatbots work across industries, as evidenced by software provider Evernote. Using Sprout chatbots, the company achieved an 80% increase in people helped on Twitter per week. That value adds up fast when you consider customers spend 20% to 40% more with companies that engage with and respond to service requests on social.
Additionally, through Sprout’s Bot Report, you can easily prove the value of a chatbot strategy through comprehensive analytics detailing volume, performance and what topics are driving the most engagement.
Chatbot technology also helps both Bloomerang and its clients differentiate themselves from competitors.
“It gives you an advantage over someone who doesn't have them,” Higgins said. “There's absolutely no reason agencies shouldn't be offering chatbots right now. People will have a chatbot just to say they have it, and you could sell them that, either in a package or as a standalone. But most importantly, it works. For our industry, it’s about customer service and sales. In other industries, it could be something else. Let's say it's a tourism-based business, and people want to know what hotels are available, what there is to do in the area, where there’s a good place to eat. You can have all this handled by a chatbot.”
The possibilities are seemingly endless, and the value of chatbots will only grow as digital consumers continue to expect increasingly responsive service on their channel of choice.
Fortunately for agencies like Bloomerang and the clients they serve, Sprout Social is on hand to help.
Want to learn more about how Sprout Social helps agencies? Find out more here.
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